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[per-fuhngk-tuh-ree] /pərˈfʌŋk tə ri/
performed merely as a routine duty; hasty and superficial:
perfunctory courtesy.
lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent or apathetic:
In his lectures he reveals himself to be merely a perfunctory speaker.
Origin of perfunctory
1575-85; < Late Latin perfūnctōrius negligent, superficial, derivative of perfungī to do one's job, be done, equivalent to per- per- + fung-, base of fungī to perform, function + -tōrius -tory1
Related forms
perfunctorily, adverb
perfunctoriness, noun
1, 2. negligent, heedless, thoughtless, uninterested.
1, 2. careful, diligent. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for perfunctoriness
Historical Examples
  • She greeted him with a like perfunctoriness and introduced him to Miss Belthorp.

    Happy Pollyooly

    Edgar Jepson
  • Lee could not escape that feeling of perfunctoriness in her twitter of talk.

    The Iron Furrow George C. Shedd
  • It is not difficult to trace signs of fatigue and perfunctoriness in the later works of its representatives.

    The Russian Opera Rosa Newmarch
  • Though she talked so sweetly there was, Karen felt it now, a perfunctoriness in Tante's remarks.


    Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  • Sylvia thought she perceived a new note in Edna's tone, a courtesy, a perfunctoriness, that chilled her.

    The Opened Shutters

    Clara Louise Burnham
British Dictionary definitions for perfunctoriness


done superficially, only as a matter of routine; careless or cursory
dull or indifferent
Derived Forms
perfunctorily, adverb
perfunctoriness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Late Latin perfunctōrius negligent, from perfunctus dispatched, from perfungī to fulfil; see function
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for perfunctoriness



1580s, from Late Latin perfunctorius "careless, negligent," literally "like one who wishes to get through a thing," from Latin perfungus, past participle of perfungi "discharge, busy oneself, get through," from per- "through" + fungi "perform" (see function (n.)). Related: Perfunctorily.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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